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Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

Between TV shows like Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition and countless feature docs of a similar ilk (Super Size Me, Food, Inc., etc.), it’s nearly impossible to present any new information about the terrible diet of Americans. This affable near-infomercial by Australian director Joe Cross too often thinks it’s doing just that. But Cross’ personal journey from fat and wealthy futures trader to trim adventure-seeker/diet guru is a decently inspirational tale, and one told with gusto by the cheerful subject. Despite the film’s cursory treatment of the science behind Cross’ debatably healthy juice fast and total ignorance of the U.S. agricultural industry’s stranglehold on citizens’ nutritional options, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead is admittedly compelling, especially when Cross takes on a sort of client in the form of a morbidly obese truck driver at his wit’s end. (available now)

Special Features: none

The Lion King: Diamond Edition

Disney once again steps up to the plate and continues their tradition of technical excellence with this pristine Blu-Ray transfer of the hit King Lear-with-animals animated classic from 1994. Not only do the Oscar-winning songs and score hold up all these years later, but so does the tight narrative and exceptional performances. (A 3-D re-release still in theaters at press time has proven as much, raking in nearly $100 million.) The extras are mostly holdovers from the Platinum release years back, but a new featurette, Pride of The Lion King, lives up to the set’s standards with revealing tidbits from, among others, Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane. Perhaps the most shocking: Jeffrey Katzenberg, then head of Disney animation, displayed the horrific musical sense that would later plague his DreamWorks outings, including suggesting ABBA to score the film and insisting (and almost succeeding) in replacing Timon’s hula song with the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.” (available now)

Special Features: Deleted scenes, bloopers, deleted song, featurettes

Mr. Nice

Writer-director Bernard Rose isn’t the easiest auteur to love; his earnest romanticism usually clashes with his mischievous impulses as a storyteller (check out his white-liberal-guilt commentary Candyman or his portrayal of Beethoven as a misogynist with a heart of gold in Immortal Beloved) in such stark contrast that some of Rose’s gems are often unfairly discarded. Such is the case with Mr. Nice, the true story of drug trafficker Howard Marks (Rhys Ifans) that, in true Rose fashion, is both a charming romp of international proportions and a breathless, Philip Glass-scored indictment of the War on Drugs. Ifans is a marvel here as the globe-hopping kingpin/government agent, as is David Thewlis as an insane IRA member. Consider this a warm-up for Ifans and Thewlis’ forthcoming Anonymous, in which they’re positively scorching. (available now)

Special Features: Featurette

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